The company pumped up support for channel partners selling its business analytics software and appliances with attractive financing, free skills-building boot camps, access to its Innovation Centers, a new, benefits-driven authorization and incentives for sales to mid-market clients.
IBM positioned Netezza as the center piece of its business analytics strategy, emphasizing to channel partners the speed of deployment and low cost per terabyte of the Netezza appliances to cement its point that the technology makes analysis of big data more affordable and accessible, and therefore, more applicable to mid-sized businesses. The vendor hopes that half of Netezza sales will come from channel partners within four years.
"It's a consultative sale to the CIO now," said Abrams. "We want to get businesses up and running on analytics functions quickly, easily and cost-effectively," he said.
Authorization, Training Prod Channel Growth
Authorization for business analytics, in particular, has catalyzed the number of channel partners interested in selling the technology to mid-sized businesses, said Abrams. In the past year, IBM has doubled its roster of authorized channel partners selling business analytics to 10,000, he said, a figure the vendor now believes provides sufficient critical mass to up its share of the segment.
IBM's move to extend analytics technology from the enterprise to midmarket accounts has bolstered the business model of channel partners such as BrightStar Partners Inc., a Chicago-area specialist in the technology.
"The challenge is in a relatively new area -- to marry the traditional focus on sales data, marketing and analysis with the explosion in social media," said Neil Morgan, BrightStar president. "Our differentiator is building a solution that meets our customers' needs with which they can see a quick ROI," he said.
"The barrier to entry for business analytics is dropping quite rapidly," he said. "Multi-billion dollar organizations have always been able to afford business analytics technology but SMBs with many of the same needs lack either depth in IT support or deep pocketbook to afford a robust implementation," he said.
"For us, IBM is driving the change to move the market toward SMBs," he said. "They've assisted us with partner enablement and training and helped us to understand their analytics roadmap which has helped us make our own," said Morgan.
"Traditionally we've always been with larger organizations but we will try to pursue SMBs," he said.
John Lucas, formerly director of operations at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens and now BrightStar's director of solutions delivery, managed the solution provider's analytics software installation in his prior role. The Zoo employs 250 people with an overall annual budget of some $28 million.